(Jerry Tallmer's article appeared in The Villager, September 23-29.)
IMELDA: A NEW MUSICAL
Book by Sachi Oyama; Music by Nathan Wang; Lyrics by Aaron Coleman; Choreography by Reggie Lee
Directed by Tim Dang
A Pan Asian Repertory Theatre (Tisa Chang) presentation in association with East West Players (www.panasianrep.org)
Through October 18
At the Julia Miles Theater, 424 West 55th Street (9th/10th Aves.)
212-239-6200, or www.telecharge.com
Pan Asian Rep rips, reveals Marcos
Salty commentary, spoken and sung, gives ‘Imelda’ satirical sting
When the people of People Power — the masses of ordinary Filipinos who had finally had enough of the Marcos tyranny and his martial law — broke into the grandiose Malacañang Palace that President Ferdinand and First Lady Imelda Marcos had finally, hastily evacuated, what soon came to light was a beyond-belief treasure trove of Imelda’s finery.
Heading the count, according to many reports: 15 mink coats, 500 gowns, 1,000 handbags, 3,000 pairs of shoes. Yes, three thousand.
Imelda said it was all for the people’s good; to set an example, show them how they should want to live — and want their leaders to live.
“She certainly was controversial,” says Tisa Chang. “I think controversial figures are far more interesting than non-controversial ones, don’t you?”
Tisa Chang, Artistic Producing Director of the Pan Asian Repertory that she founded at La MaMa 32 years ago, has been the prime mover of bringing to New York the East West Players Los-Angeles-spawned production of “Imelda.”
Broadway had its “Evita.” Off-Broadway has its “Imelda.”
It has been “refined,” trimmed down from its West Coast launch, says Ms. Chang, and so has its cast, from 15 or 16 actor-singer-dancers to just a dozen. Trimmed down or not, it spells out — and I do mean spells out — every last detail in the up-from-poverty life and times of the Iron Butterfly (or Steel Butterfly; take your pick) who was once ranked among the most powerful women of her, or any, era.
“I thought it timely to bring to bring this work to New York,” says Tisa Chang. “First, because Imelda Marcos” — born July 2, 1929 — “has just reached her 80th birthday, over there in Manila, and then because Corazon Aquino died a month ago [on August 1] — the Corazon who was propelled by, yes, People Power to win the presidency over the Ferdinand Marcos who very probably had had her husband, democracy-minded candidate Nimoy Aquino, assassinated right before election day.
“Imelda” the musical indeed starts with Imelda Romuelduz of Leyte Island, in her early 20s, having been named “Miss Muse of Manila” in consolation for losing a Miss Manila beauty contest, pouring out her woes and dreams (someday…an Oscar!) to none other than the young journalist Nimoy Aquino she takes to be her boyfriend.
'IMELDA' on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4h-QEjY0NY
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre: http://www.panasianrep.org/imelda.shtml